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Opposing Unions, Starbucks Plans To Curtail Trans Workers Health Benefits

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As per a complaint lodged with the federal labor board, Starbucks is reportedly telling its baristas that forming unions could impact the gender-affirming health care coverage the company is offering for transgender employees.

The complaint follows news than 100 of the coffee chain's 9,000 US cafes voted to form unions under Workers United in the last seven months. Under interim CEO Howard Schultz, the coffee chain has been trying to stop the formation of the union by focusing on the potential shortcomings of collective bargaining, like federal labor laws, which stop the company from raising wages across cafes, which have unions without contract negotiations.

The union's latest complaint against the company was filed on Monday. A transgender employee at an Oklahoma City location told media that she thought her manager used a "veiled threat" in a talk. The manager reportedly told the employee that her benefits could improve, stay the same or worsen if the store formed a union and referred specially to her trans health-care benefits.

Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges told the media that the claims were false.
The coffee chain's health insurance has covered gender reassignment surgery since 2012 and a wider range of gender-affirming procedures, like hair transplants or breast reduction, since 2018. Last month, the company had said that it would cover the travel costs of gender revealing surgeries even as state lawmakers target transgender rights.

Till the middle of March, more than 150 anti-trans bills have been introduced in state legislatures requesting to limit access to health care, sports, bathrooms and education, said NBC News. Oklahoma, for example, has this year alone, passed three anti-trans laws.

Starbucks is often praised for its long history of supporting LGBTQ+ workers and the broader community, particularly during Pride Month in June. The company said that its age-old policies including health care coverage for same-sex domestic partnerships and employees with terminal illnesses were inspired by a Starbucks worker who died of complications from AIDs.

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